Affidavit Versus Goliath

A former lieutenant accuses top sheriff's officials of misconduct in firing of "dime dropper" deputy

Wetherell resigned in October. No charges were ever filed.
His attorney, Carolyn Crook, says the allegations are preposterous. The county property Wetherell supposedly misused, for example, was a copying machine he had allowed a company to share in exchange for letting the aviation division have additional office space.

Crook says Wetherell resigned rather than go through what Battilana had gone through fighting his termination.

Two weeks later, Wetherell came forward with his affidavit, which contains accusations of witness tampering, harassment and perjury.

The affidavit alleges:
* Deputies Gary McGuire and Dale Tupper were offered the assignments of their choice in exchange for their testimony against Battilana.

* Hendershott used McGuire in an undercover assignment to gather damaging information against Battilana before an official investigation had begun.

* Hendershott ordered Wetherell to doctor McGuire's and Tupper's reports about Battilana, statements that became key in the charges against the ousted sergeant.

* Deputies who would not cooperate were transferred to dead-end assignments.
Crook says that Wetherell has nothing to gain by coming forward with his accusations, which he made under oath. He has no reason to expose himself to perjury charges, she says.

Hendershott, McGuire and Tupper couldn't be reached for comment for this story. Sergeant Dave Trombi, a public information officer with the sheriff's office, declined to pass on messages to the officers. Instead, he says the county's response to Wetherell's allegations is contained in another affidavit, this one written by deputy county attorney Ronald Lebowitz, who has handled the Battilana case.

The gist of that affidavit is that Wetherell's lacks credibility because it contradicts testimony he gave in the Battilana case.

Lebowitz has represented the sheriff's office in the Battilana case since September 1996, prior to his hiring as a deputy county attorney. He characterizes Wetherell's bombshell affidavit as a "personal betrayal" of Lebowitz, and writes that Wetherell's affidavit "reveals a personality which appears to be stuck in a quagmire of paranoia, imagining cabals and conspiracies underlying every act of government. . . ."

Lebowitz's affidavit says that it was he, and not Hendershott, who insisted that potential witnesses in the Battilana case be polygraphed. Excerpts of Lebowitz's affidavit are reproduced elsewhere in this issue.

Excerpts of the Wetherell Affidavit
ROBERT WETHERELL, being first duly sworn, deposes and states as follows:
I was employed by the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office for 17-1/2 years; and, was a Lieutenant for 5 years and 9 months prior to my resignation on October 19, 1998.

I was actively and intimately involved in the investigation of Mark Battilana, and Mark Battilana's subsequent Merit Commission appeal.

I make this Affidavit based on first hand knowledge.
In approximately April 1996, I received a telephone call from Deputy Dale Tupper. Deputy Tupper told me that he was concerned about his transfer from District 2. Deputy Tupper told me that he had concerns that Sergeant Mark Battilana was behind his transfer. After my phone conversation with Deputy Tupper, I contacted Director Hendershott to tell him about Deputy Tupper's concern about being transferred from District 2.

When I told this to Director Hendershott, Director Hendershott was elated and said: "This stuff is great. You couldn't have picked better timing."

Thereafter, Director Hendershott ordered me to get Deputy Gary McGuire to make undercover contact with Sergeant Mark Battilana in an effort to get information that could be used against Mark Battilana. Director Hendershott basically ordered that Deputy McGuire should act as a "mole." At this time, there was no Internal Affairs investigation of Sergeant Battilana.

Director Hendershott told me that Deputy Dale Tupper and Deputy Gary McGuire would be rewarded for their cooperation in getting information that could be used against Mark Battilana. Director Hendershott told me that the Sheriff's Office wanted Mark Battilana fired.

Prior to the actual Internal Affairs investigation being conducted, David Hendershott informed me that Deputy Gary McGuire was to act as a mole and try to get information on Mark Battilana and that at a later time any negative information would be taken to Chief Deputy Jadel Roe, who is in charge of Internal Affairs. Director Hendershott would chuckle and refer to Deputy McGuire as "our mole" or "Deep Throat." I knew that this was highly unusual and improper. However, based on my experience with Director Hendershott, I knew that if I did not cooperate that I would also be terminated.

During this pre-investigation phase where Deputy McGuire was ordered to act as a mole against Sergeant Battilana, I also spoke with several Department employees about Mark Battilana. After interviewing several of these individuals, I told Director Hendershott that many of the "potential witnesses" knew nothing about any misconduct involving Sergeant Battilana. Director Hendershott then ordered me to intimidate "Potential Witnesses" and threaten polygraphs of any "potential witnesses" who would not come forward with negative information about Mark Battilana. Director Hendershott told me that "We must get people who want to cooperate and we will eliminate those who will not cooperate."

During my interviews of possible witnesses, Director Hendershott was very consumed with the information that I received from the individuals I interviewed. In fact, Director Hendershott ordered that I contact him and relay the substance of the interviews immediately after I completed an interview.

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